On This Page
- How to Find All Old URLs
- Decide What Pages to Let 404, 301 or Migrate
- Website Migration Template
- Change of Address in Google Search Console
- Final Checks
If you have a website, typically over time it will begin to build authority with Google, create a reputation and gain backlinks. If you migrate the website to a new domain or merge it with another site and don’t take the proper steps, most likely the new domain will not rank as well as the old domain.
This can also result in website traffic drops, a reduction in link juice being passed to the domain and a poor user experience.
Also, make sure you are using 301s not 302s.
6 months no traffic and then BOOM.
What did the trick?
Fixing an old 302 redirect from a domain migration.
302s still need to be fixed.
302s and 301s are the same as 404s and 410s.
One will glue old URLs to the SERPs, the other won’t.
— Kevin_Indig (@Kevin_Indig) September 9, 2020
— Glenn Gabe (@glenngabe) August 14, 2022
How to Find All Old URLs
First you need to decide what pages from the old site should be redirected and which ones should not. In order to do this, you need a list of all the old URLs. You can get these from several sources.
You can use a tool like Screaming Frog to crawl the website and find all the URLs. For this to work, the old site needs to be up and running so that it can be crawled.
If the old site is still up, you can pull the URLs from the old XML sitemap.
You can find archived URLs from Wayback Machine using this awesome Google Sheet.
Check out the guide here: https://www.thetechseo.com/seo-tools/discover-lost-urls/
Go on Google and type this into the search bar without quotes: “site:old-domain.com”. This will show you all pages that Google has indexed from the old domain. You can copy and paste all the results into a Google Sheet, sort and remove extra rows. Or you can extract this data with a number of tools. This will give you a list of many of the old URLs.
Ahrefs / SEMrush
The other option is to use a tool like Ahrefs. Add the old domain, go to the “Best By Links” report. You can export this list which will have many of the URLs from the old domain in it.
Decide What Pages to Let 404, 301 or Migrate
You’ll need to pull data from several sources if you don’t want to make any mistakes with the migration. I recommend pulling the following data and using it with the Website Migration Template below.
Organic Traffic Only
Here, you’ll want to pull some basic metrics like number of users, sessions and conversions. We don’t want to get rid of content that brings in a lot of traffic or conversions.
Here, you’ll want to pull some basic metrics like all pageviews and conversions. Why? Well what if some pages don’t get organic traffic (or not much of it) but they do bring in some conversions from other sources. Or they have many pageviews. Then this is content you probably want to keep, no get rid of. That’s why you should check data from all sources, not just organic.
Google Search Console
We want to know what pages are getting impressions and clicks and which ones are not. This can be used to decide if a page can be left to 404 or if it needs to be redirected.
Aherfs or SEMrush
I recommend seeing what pages back backlinks pointing to them. In most cases, you’ll want to redirect these URLs so that you don’t loose those backlinks.
Website Migration Template
Make a copy of this template. [not sure how to do that?] Paste all old URLs into Column A. Find the correlating page on the new domain and past that into Column B.
Change of Address in Google Search Console
Don’t forget to perform a change of address in Google Search Console if the migration consists of moving to a different domain name.
You can learn more here:
After you’ve mapped everything out, migrated the content and set up the 301 redirects, you’ll want to double check your work. Make sure to crawl all the old URLs with a tool like Screaming Frog to make sure the pages you want to 404 are doing so and that the pages you want to 301 are doing so. This is super important to do!